(Article by Hassib Nasseri)
Social Media has exploded in the last half a decade. Its now the number one use of the web. Today more than 1.5 billion people around the globe have an account on the numerous social networking sites. It has been estimated that one in five online hours is spent on social networks; increasing through mobile devices. The dynamics of the way we socialize and communicate has shifted. Businesses are starting to realise the tangible benefits that can be gained; as a result, the growth in the adoption of social media across all industries has been exponential and we are witnessing the creation of social businesses.
For B2C’s, social platforms are mainly used as a marketing tool to gain exposure quickly and for free. They are evidently playing an important role in B2C marketing and are rapidly gaining momentum.
For a B2B, it’s mostly about developing, building and nurturing relationships. Engagement and influence is more important than just pure exposure.
Twitter is a popular social platform amongst B2B’s to find and engage with their clients. It has over 500 million users and over 115 million active monthly users. It’s the best platform for busy business professionals, marketers and CEOs to get the message out and gain mass exposure quickly. I am personally most active on Twitter.
When it comes to B2B marketing on social platforms, its all about three key components: Online reputation, Thought-leadership and a Strong Online Brand. Twitter can be very useful in addressing these areas.
Twitter is where the news breaks. Twitter is where real-time conversations are happening. Twitter is the best social media tool for covering events and running events live. Next time you go to an event, find the event #hashtag and join the conversation.
Event marketing of conferences, workshops and seminars are crucial to the success of any B2B organization these days.
Facebook is by far the biggest social network. It has amassed over 1.1 billion users around the globe. It’s considered to be the number one B2C social network. As a B2B social media tool, Facebook does serve to deliver client services, online promotions and event announcements primarily.
Another important B2B feature provided by Facebook is the ability to gain opt-ins for e-mail marketing on a business page. Incorporating this tool into the page will give us direct access to the clients and at the same time will allow us to know which of your clients are keen and interested in our services.
B2B marketers who turn to Facebook as a social media tool need to heavily engage in target and organizational groups and pages.
Creating direct B2B sales relationships from Facebook is possible, but with the rise of business focused platforms like LinkedIn, businesses are increasingly shifting their efforts towards the more effective social networks with a higher return on investment.
LinkedIn is the most effective social platform used by B2B’s. It was born and bred to create and develop business relationships, and has grown to have 300 million active users in more than 200 countries. LinkedIn makes it easy to build relationships with your target prospects. Over 48% of B2B social marketers plan to increase their lead origination through the usage of LinkedIn discussion groups and pages in 2013.
The obvious opportunities in using LinkedIn as a marketing tool include personal branding for employees, sales development for business development professionals and marketing opportunities via LinkedIn targeted, real-time lead generation advertising.
The key to winning on LinkedIn is three things – Profile / Usage / Attitude to use LinkedIn on a daily basis to provide valuable support to our connections and groups and make an effort to connect with other influencer and clients.
LinkedIn could provide highly sophisticated marketing tools by posting targeted ads by location, industry, title, company and other specific demographics. It has the potential to capture leads on the fly.
The most compelling feature of LinkedIn, in general, for anyone in B2B sales is the ability to learn everything, on a professional level and personal level, about a target prospect and find appropriate ways for warm introductions.
Google Plus is becoming the next big social network for businesses. It has over 3oom+ active monthly users. That is more than on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Critics say that Google is boasting about the number of active users. People who have a Gmail account are automatically registered.
When your content is placed on Google+ it has the chance to rank higher because the content is fed into the personal search results of your Google+ circles. And content that is feature-rich, like online video (YouTube – a Google product) and images supported with text gains ultimately gain more exposure.
With Google Plus, you can have a business page as well. This means that a person can follow and engage with your business on a personal level, creating opportunities for relationship building.
Other trending social platforms include:
Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. People create and share collections (called “boards”) of visual bookmarks (called “Pins”) that they use to do things like plan trips and projects, organize events or save articles and recipes.
WordPress is a free, Web-based software program that anyone can use to build and maintain a website or blog. Its one of the biggest blogging platform in the world. Blogging or being a content creator is really the one most effective way to establish your employees as an influencer or a thought leader. Blogging enables them share their own expertise, knowledge and opinion instead of just sharing other peoples content. Strengthening the social eminence of employees brings a wealth of benefits such as gaining credibility, organic exposure for your products and services and promotion of your capabilities as an organisation dedicated to serving the needs of other businesses.
Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
Twitter’s micro-video social network, is perhaps the best form of entertainment by and for Generation Distraction. With a limit of six seconds per video, Vine provides a steady supply of hilarious, surprising and inventive mini-movies showcasing users’ art, comedy, pets, pranks and general Internet weirdness.
I think that the social media nucleus will split into Business and Social. There will be more dedicated platforms like LinkedIn and less new sites like Facebook. In order to remain relevant, there will be more effective platforms to help small, medium and larger companies to increase their ROI.
Hassib Nasseri is a Business Growth & Social Media Strategist. You can visit his website: HERE